Helping Families for 25+ Years

Visitation Rights of Grandparents in California

Grandparents in many families play an important role in their grandchildren’s lives. In some households, the grandparents play the role of parents.

However, if a grandchild’s parents get divorced, grandparents may wonder if they can still see or visit their loved one. Fortunately, grandparents may request the court for visitation with their grandkids.

Family courts in CA will accept a petition for grandparent visitation when the child’s parents are:

  • Divorce, separated, or otherwise not living together

  • One of the parents is deceased

  • One parent’s whereabouts have been unknown for at least one (1) month

  • The child is not living with either parent

  • One of the parents is in a jail, prison, or institution (involuntary)

Grandparents who are interested in obtaining visitation rights must file a petition with the appropriate family court, which is often where there is a pending divorce case or when the most recent custody order was issued. If there is an open family court case, then the grandparents may join the case with their petition.

The petitioning grandparents must also serve a copy of the petition to each of their grandchild’s parents or whoever has physical custody of the child. All grandparent visitation cases involve mediation. If both parties cannot find a resolution in mediation, then the case will be sent to court.

The petitioning grandparents must prove they have a healthy, pre-existing condition with their grandchild – which is commonly called an “engendered bond” – and show that visitation rights would be in the child's best interests. Keep in mind, even if the courts do find that visitation rights would be in the best interests of the grandchild, they must also factor in the parent’s rights.

Ultimately, parents have a fundamental right to make decisions on behalf of their children. So, if both parents wish to deny visitation rights to their child’s grandparents, then the court must take the parents’ decision into consideration with the positives of grandparent visitation. If a child is at least 14 years of age, his/her opinion will also be considered by the court.

If grandparents are granted visitation rights, the judge may also order them to pay a limited amount of child support. Common examples include paying for transportation to travel to the grandparent for visitation, paying for daycare costs, or medical expenses related to the child’s health.

If you are interested in seeking grandparent visitation in Granite Bay or Placer County, contact Myers Family Law today at (916) 634-0067 and schedule a consultation. Our firm has more than 25 years of family law experience.